An officer with the Penobscot County Sheriff's Office is shown at the Sebasticook Lake Campground in Newport on July 15. A deputy sheriff shot and killed a man at the campground who allegedly had a gun. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

NEWPORT, Maine — The man killed by a Penobscot County deputy sheriff Friday afternoon believed he was protecting the Sebasticook Lake Campground from danger when he informed one of its owners of an apparent threat and urged her to call 911, the campground’s owners, Sharon Sheehan and Dan Wilbur, said Saturday.

Stephen Bossom, 35, who was armed, was shot and killed after he confronted Deputy Kenneth York, the first officer to arrive at the campground, according to the Newport police and the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office. Police were responding to a 911 call about a social media post stating there was a person with a weapon at the campground, the agencies said.

York shot and killed Bossom, according to police. The deputy is on paid administrative leave, and the Maine Office of the Attorney General will investigate the shooting, as is standard following police shootings.

Police were not at the campground Saturday afternoon.

Bossom and his wife had been working at the campground part-time since May in exchange for a free campsite, where they had parked their refurbished Airstream trailer, according to Sheehan. It’s a common arrangement at campgrounds throughout the country, she said.

On Friday afternoon, Bossom told Sheehan about a social media post that included a threat to the campground and its owners, said Sheehan, who has not seen the post.

“I thought it was a disgruntled past employee who was targeting me and the campground,” she said. “Stephen said, ‘You are in danger.’”

She asked Bossom whether she should call police, and Bossom said yes, she said.

“Stephen truly believed he was protecting everybody in the campground,” Sheehan said. “He believed we were all in danger.”

Sheehan went into the home she and husband share on the property, and she called 911 from her bathroom. From there, she heard, but did not see, the shooting.

From the bathroom, however, Sheehan said she could see Bossom take some steps in an apparent effort to try to protect his family and others at the campground.

Bossom’s wife, Abbie, who was working at the camp store and office Friday had accidentally locked herself out of the building. So Bossom broke a window on the side and helped his daughter through it so she could open the door from the inside.

Bossom herded his wife, daughter and some children and campers into the building, apparently for their own safety, Sheehan said. They later climbed out a different window and went down a hill away from the store and office, she said.

When police arrived, officers led him away from the store and office building toward Old Bangor Road, off of which the campground is located, and Sheehan could no longer see what was taking place.

She heard Bossom ask officers for identification, and she could hear officers repeatedly telling him to drop his weapon. She then heard four shots being fired, she said.

“He wanted the police but when they arrived, he didn’t believe they were police,” she said. “The police did an awesome job. The officer had no choice.”

Bossom and his wife lived in Colorado before they arrived at the Sebasticook Lake Campground, where their daughter recently celebrated a birthday, Sheehan said.

“We couldn’t have asked for better workers,” she said. “They came to work happy every day.”

Many police shootings in Maine have been preceded by mental health crises or domestic violence, according to police shooting reports from the attorney general’s office. Sheehan and Wilbur both said they saw nothing that concerned them about the couple’s mental health or relationship.

“There was no indication of any problems,” said Wilbur, a former firefighter and emergency medical technician in Massachusetts.

By noon on Saturday, Abbie Bossom and her daughter had left the campground to stay with relatives in Maine, Sheehan said.

Sheehan and Wilbur purchased the campground on Sebasticook Lake — which has 68 RV sites, five spots for tents and six cabins — in 2016. It is open from mid-May to mid-October. During the school year, Sheehan and Wilbur both drive buses for local school districts.

As of noon Saturday, just one couple, whose campsite was next to the Bossoms’, had decided to leave following the shooting, according to Sheehan.

“We treat everyone like family,” she said. “That’s why this is so devastating.”